The book is a product of the 2020 lockdown, so it is quite short (94 pages of text) but written out of a sense of urgency about what I see as a major problem for Australian identity. The problem is partly historical: how does a nation come to terms with the shadow-side of its own history? In Australia’s case, prior to 1967 Indigenous people in Australia were treated as a hindrance to the expansion of British/European settlement, Indigenous languages were banned, and Aboriginal people excluded from the usual benefits of citizenship, and subject to neglect and violence. This in itself is bad enough, but the situation is not merely historical: Aboriginal people are still far more likely to be imprisoned than non-Aboriginal people, youth suicide in Indigenous communities is disproportionately higher than in the wider population, and the federal government has refused a request, put forward in 2017, for an Indigenous voice to parliament as a way of correcting systemic disadvantage. In the past year, a 46,000-year old site of cultural and religious significance in Western Australia was destroyed by a mining company, and a stand of trees in Victoria, some 700 years old and of similar significance, were cut down to make way for a highway. Fortunately, Indigenous voices are more numerous and articulate now than they were in the past, but are still not being heard, not being listened to by the wider community, including politicians and company directors. So this is why I felt the need to say something, and as a theologian, my response was always going to be of a theological nature.


"I am a pharmacist and have always been interested in the search for new drugs."

In Conversation with Research Alumna Professor Márcia Goettert, Professor of Biotechnology and Associate Professor in Medical Sciences at the University of Vale do Taquari – Univates Brazil

Professor Márcia Goettert and her daughter in Tübingen.

What is your connection with Tübingen and the University?
My connection with Tübingen and the University started in 2005 during activities linked to my doctorate and postdoctoral studies at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Tubingen. Later, in 2013, as a professor at the University of Vale do Taquari - Univates, I expanded this cooperation with a Postgraduate Program in Biotechnology (PPGBiotec).

Where are you based?
In Brazil, at the University of Vale do Taquari – Univates Brazil. I am Professor of Biotechnology, the head and the coordinator of the Graduate Program 'Biotechnology', and Associate Professor in Medical Sciences.

What is your main area of research?
My main area of research involves Biotechnology and new therapeutics in inflammation.

What fueled your interest in your subject?
I am a pharmacist and have always been interested in the search for new drugs. And during my doctorate (in 2005) I worked on a project in search of molecules that modulate proteins involved in inflammatory events (MAPKs) and other chronic diseases. I did my PhD in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Tübingen University under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Stefan Laufer, fueling my interest in the topic. The research group that I coordinate acts in the identification and evaluation of small molecules (natural derivatives, synthetic, isolated or associated compounds) that act by modulating this pathway, mainly its mechanism of action, and how they could prevent some diseases related to inflammation.

Are you still in touch with Tübingen University?
Yes, definitely. In recent years, a close cooperative relationship has developed between Professor Stefan Laufer (Tübingen University) and my research group here in Brazil, to the great benefit of both institutions. Together, Professor Laufer and I have published several scientific publications in international journals. This partnership is based on using know-how from both groups in the generation and identification of molecules, as well as in in vitro and in vivo tests, namely in models of chronic inflammatory diseases. On the one hand, our partnership allows us to understand the therapeutic potential of target molecules in the face of chronic inflammation, as well as the definition of their mechanisms of action in in vitro models, contributing to the discovery of new opportunities in the development of drugs by the industry, as well as the expansion and modernization of research with the Brazilian group. On the other, our partnership with the University of Tübingen guarantees the mobility of researchers/ students between the Department of Medicinal Chemistry (Germany) and Univates (Brazil), allowing researchers and students to share knowledge in a "multicultural training experience" strategy.
As the first action of this collaboration with PPGBiotec, in October 2014, on an international mission to different European countries, I visited the German institution in order to continue strengthening this partnership. At the time, new collaborative research themes were defined. Concurrently, the researchers from Tübingen carried out several missions to Brazil, and on numerous occasions provided discussions at events, at Univates and other universities and presented the joint works in progress.

In 2016, a graduate student from PPGBiotec from Univates was on a mission with UT, and the first article (qualis superior) of this mission was published on 01/2019. Later in 2017, in a new international mission, research findings were presented at different academic events. In addition, there were a number of different activities and meetings at Tübingen University. Finally, from November 2018 to March 2019, I came to Tübingen as a Visiting Research Professor. I contributed to the already existing knowledge in Tübingen, helped to create new academic opportunities, and started working on the implementation of future collaborative research projects.
In October 2020, a new mission is planned for Tübingen, focusing on the development of a new bioassay and other important previous data that may collaborate with the identification of molecules with potential for Covid-19.

The benefits of academic exchange on different levels
Currently, three master students, four doctoral students, a post-doc, undergraduate students from different health courses, in addition to three PPGbiotec professors, researchers from health courses, work on topics related to the investigation of new therapeutic compounds, in partnership with the project in execution with Prof. Dr. Laufer. The preliminary results are significant.
The excellent infrastructure, receptivity of the University of Tubingen, as well as its various research groups, were fundamental to my professional and personal experience, and still qualify Univates' research. This qualification occurs with the exchanges of professors and students, and the consequent scientific production developed in collaboration between researchers from both institutions.
This contact is a great stimulus to the internationalization of the students of the Univates postgraduate program, aiming at the dissemination of knowledge.

Recent publications

Review of Trials Currently Testing Stem Cells for Treatment of Respiratory Diseases: Facts Known to Date and Possible Applications to COVID-19. Stem Cell Reviews and Reports, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12015-020-10033-6

Are peptides a solution for the treatment of hyperactivated JAK3 pathways? Inflammopharmacology. 2019

Neuroprotective potential of Myrciaria plinioides D. Legrand extract in an in-vitro human neuroblastoma model. Inflammopharmacology, 2019

Contact details

Prof. Dr. Márcia Inês Goettert
Universidade do Vale do Taquari - UNIVATES.
Avenida Avelino Talini, 171
95914014 - Lajeado, RS - Brasil
Telefone: (051) 37147000
Ramal: 5445

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3648-5033

Curriculum lattes: http://lattes.cnpq.br/5742493416858879

Link to access the Graduate Program in Biotechnology at the University of Vale do Taquari - Univates: https://www.univates.br/ppgbiotec/

Link to access the Graduate Program in Medical Sciences at the University of Vale do Taquari - Univates: https://www.univates.br/ppgcm/